My elderly parents treat me as their whipping board - AgingCare.com

My elderly parents treat me as their whipping board. How do I handle this?

Asked by  |  Jan 8, 2010 |  

Mom is a borderline personality and dad is dysfunctional, trying desparately to just breath right so she doesn't act out. My parents that treat me as their whipping board. How do I handle this? It's very hurtful and frustrating. As the only care giver I don't even have power of attorney for their medical care. This goes to my long distance brother who barely even calls once a month. Mom's cognition is failing and she is getting harder to handle. Dad just tip toes around so she won't act out. Please, I need some advice on how to handle this situation.

 
 
 

ohreally51

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Jan 13, 2015

30 some years ago after my divorce from a huge narcissist who I had been wondering for all of our 13 year marriage HOW I married someone so different from my father, the therapist observed "you blame you mother so much more than your dad. He is in it up to his eyeballs". Bingo. And I also came to realize that I was like my dad and my now - thank GOD - ex husband IS my mother. I was so un-evolved at the time I thought women married men like their dads and I thought I had a great dad. My mother was such a bitch and still is btw and I thought he was a saint. But the net effect for us kids and particularly me, the scapegoat, was bad. He abdicated responsibility and got to 'LOOK LIKE THE SAINT' whereas she always was the one we talked about who was a serial shopper, or spoiled or didn't appreciate what a great life she had. In other words, he got as much - admiration, self gratification for being a great provider (and he never sacrificed anything for himself except for, well, his gonads in time!) - as she did. They have been married 63 years. People become MORE of who they have always been, not less. I have developed quite a thick hide after years of verbal, mental, emotional and some physical abuse and I am no longer having it. My mother's father had a real reputation for being abusive and manipulative; we never really knew him. My mother would from one side of her mouth say bad things about him when I was growing up and from the other side, say things like 'high school was the best time of my life' (she was a prom queen type) and 'we had a wonderful family'. I grew up in the kind of family that took the 'fun' out of dysfunctional. It was for me, hell. Thankfully, a good therapist is worth his or her weight in gold. The irony is that since I got a clue 30-some years ago I have been increasingly immune to my whiny mother's manipulations and my dad's 'I don't have a clue' behavior. They held my feet to the fire even as a very little kid and now when I am tempted to think of them as 'harmless' old people I remember they are the people willing to abuse a tiny, helpless child. They provided the basics for survival to me (actually from the outside, since we had money, it would have seemed like a lot more than that, but I never thought of their stuff as mine. It was theirs. As was I). I am willing, if need be, to do the same for them. Basics. Warm and dry. Do not misunderstand. I do not hate them or bear a grudge towards them. I just took off the rose colored glasses and see things as they really are.
My sister, 15 years younger, grew up in a fairly different household. By the time she was a teenager I was 30 and had three kids of my own. My father retired at 50 and was, with my mother country-clubbing it a lot. No time for my sister, who was crowned "Class Wildest" in 1988 - no small feat for a girl in a class of 700! She was left to her own devices and it wasn't good. Years later, my mother cites my sister's 'hyperthyroidism' for her behavior. Well, thyroid disease runs in our family; I have it too. Sorry, Mom, this doesn't explain it. But could she ever, or he, hold themselves personally accountable for any bad outcome? All is well that ends well, I guess. So they think. My sister, now married for a long time (to a chronic cheater and with two very wild kids who are teenagers of her own) has a masters degree in nursing and is, really, a sweet person. She learned the candy coating technique too; called me - she lives close to them and I moved away years ago - telling me how much my mother misses me and cries all the time. I know what she misses - drama and a convenient punching bag. When a vacuum is created there is no air in the room. I have been out of her life for two years. She is out of new, bad things to say about me and needs more narcissistic supply. I felt nothing and almost laughed. Crying? Give me a break. Again, I am not angry but I am resolved and adamant. My sister asked me what she wants me to do if 'anything happens to them'. I told her let me know what the arrangements are and also, If I need to chip in on anything or if my siblings need my help. My parents have enough money to be safe, well cared for and well fed. If your situation is anything like this, run, don't walk, toward your own happy, well adjusted life. You only get one.

 
 

taraterm2

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Aug 6, 2012

My mom is an intolerable narcissist, and looks down on anyone who is old, frail, sickly or wrinkled. She has all these things and more, but refuses to admit it. All those old people got old because it was THEIR FAULT and they got what they deserved. As far as shes concerned they should all be gassed. This attitude amazess my sister and myself, cause mom has been dependent on us since Pop died 6 years ago and we havent had a month go by without some sort of old age emergency.She has alienated everyone in her family and friends...the only way to get on with her is to ignore her for days on end, and then she behaves herself.I used to think elder abuse was the most horrific thing that could happen, but now, after 5 years with Mom, when I hear the term elder abuse my first response is..."where do I sign up???"

 
 

psjpotter

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Feb 6, 2010

This is quite a day for me, and the type of day that will carry me for months. First, I received a response from someone about angels. Angels are something that are so powerful to me and something I cherish with all my heart. Now you come along with the name "secret sister". My sister and I were at odds all our lives, and then I ended up caring for her through all her cancer stages. The beautiful thing about that was that I got my sister back in my life. She taught me how to truly love and cherish what we have. I do miss her. Mom was never diagnosed, but after talking with a cousin and doing some research I realized what my family had been dealing with all our lives. My poor father, he knows and says mom is "mental". Maybe not the nicest way to say things, but from his generation it is quite acceptable. Dad, bless his heart, stayed with my mom and tried to make her happy. He is a beaten man. We all know that's impossible. Mom has done the letter writing and the lies and manipulations and acting out. She hasn't "acted out" in about 6 months, so I am calmer than I was. I just have my days where no matter how good things are going she can still hurt me. I try super hard to remember she does have a disorder. I have to admit on my worst days I think she's evil because she has made the decision, over and over not to get help. My aunt and uncle are my support group and my surrogate parents. I think people like us really need someone to believe in us and just love us. The rest of my family all know mom "acts out", and refuse to be around her if she's bad, but they won't do anything to help. That's hard, but I didn't become a caregiver for brownie points. Somehow, I try to find a silver lining with each day that dawns. Today, I received two beautiful and supportive responses, and that makes me stronger, again. My mom doesn't go as far as calling the police, but she does call everyone and anyone who will listen to her lies. My aunt and uncle have been on the receiving end of her twisted letters and have seen her in action. That has helped me keep my sanity. I started swimming, and that has helped lower my BP. Let me know if I can help you sometime. You have been wonderful and made my day. Thanks!

 
 

Redhed

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Dec 27, 2013

If your brother has PoA, call him and tell him you will stop caring for your parents unless this is given to you. If he refuses, know he will take evverything and leave. Let him burn thru his inheritance by placing them in professional care. You are about to knock yourself out for nothing. Dont do it. They dont care about you enough to treat you fairly, walk away.

 
 

cmagnum

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Dec 16, 2014

I would say a new phrase that I learned today. "stop volunteering to be their victim"

 
 

SecretSister

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Feb 6, 2010

Dear psjpotter,

My heart really goes out to you. How did you learn of your mother's diagnosis? I am dealing with the same with my mother, only my dad has Advanced State Alzheimer's. My mom just got over Breast Cancer treatment, too. However, dealing with her Borderline Personality Disorder is the most difficult thing we've ever had to do. She is currently doing what the book, "Stop Walking On Eggshells, Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder," (by Mason & Kreger) says they will do: My mom is waging a full assault "Distortion Campaign" against me. She's calling the police, writing letters to family, lying to physicians, attorneys, etc., saying I am "abusing her," stealing, etc. I have also contacted the police several times concerning her (a friend is a State Police Trooper, and he went to court to try and help me). It's a living nightmare. But if you've read the book, there are suggestions in there to follow and walk you through. There's NOTHING we can do to make things better. It just is what it is, save a miracle from God. But, I'm also realistic, and living with, or caring for someone with BP is nothing short of a nightmare!!!!!

I wish I had some hope to offer you (and me). Simple truth you already know is: it's just plain awful. I do hope you have a good support system in place, of people who love and care about YOU. That will make a huge difference on how well you do. So sorry you have to suffer through all you have, and will be going through. Know you're not alone, and someone is praying for you. Please let us know how you're doing...

 
 

psjpotter

Give a Hug

Jan 22, 2010

Thanks everyone, but the POA will never change. I lived away from my dysfunctional family for 15 years. Being a female, and talking to the doctors gently, but truthfully has my mom in an uproar. My dad will never cross her. My parents are not quite ready for a nursing home and can't afford anything but what they have. I just really needed to say some things out loud. I am much better having found this wonderful site and realizing that I need to learn to deal with what I have and not wish for something different. I now get up at 5:00 am to swim and that has helped my stress level tremendously. Thank you all for your kind words and wisdom.

 
 

Babalou

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Dec 16, 2014

Coping, why won't mom go to a geriatric psychiatrist? How about you don't tell her it's a geriatric psychiatrist.? Right before you leave for a nice lunch out you say, oh we're going to stop by dr, p ' s office or something like that. How would that work? You have to think outside the box .

 
 

She may not be that age. My mom is 90 and my father would have been 93. I am 50. I was the last child, several years after my siblings. That seemed to make me more tied to them than the others. Also, I am the only girl. I can totally relate to the need for approval and hope for loving parents that she is expressing. What finally helped me was to realize that I needed to protect the little girl who kept getting hurt. I consciously made a choice to leave "the little girl" behind at my house when I went to see my parents. I only took the more detached adult. Sounds new age, but it really helped me to visualize that and I cared less about making them happy, which was clearly impossible.

 
 

My parents are 89 and 93. We had a very abusive childhood but with lots of personal work and therapy I have healed a lot and forgiven them. We used to enjoy going out with them for dinner or on the town. 1.5 years ago they moved into a seniors facility where they have a very nice apt. and get there meals. My mother has shut down almost completely except to be very critical about everything around her, the place does not seem to live up to her expectations. My father who was the meek one has become a tyrant at times with my mother, yelling at her impatiently and disrespectfully. The family dynamic with my two sibs has been dysfunctional at best. I was and am the scapegoat. Things seemed to be opening up a little but in the past year my brother has come at me abusively, my sister has walked out because she doesn't like my opinion. and now my father has taken it as his mission to tell me I don't listen, to shut my gob, zip it etc. I have been the main caregiver, because I work part time and I had forgiven them the most. I was there when they were sick this year. We take them out but my mother complains a lot about everything. I tried to help them adjust to this monumental change by visiting lots and taking treats, taking them out for lunch or dinner. I do understand it is monumental on so many levels, too monumental really at their ages - we tried to keep them in there house but they were adamant they would love this - and I understand this and feel for them. They have always been go getters but now they say they are waiting to die and even maybe they will do assisted suicide because they don't matter to anyone. It is so hard to see them give up. I have stood up to my Dad telling him I AM a good listener, a good person and that he is being very disrespectful. Every time we go now there is an insult to me or he starts in about listening which I refuse to listen to (maybe I am a bad listener haha). It is hurting me, bring old hurts from the hyper criticism of my childhood, too. I feel a wall between us now from my end at least. They have never been interested in me but this is like our childhood again. My sister has started visiting often which is great, I have been so happy that she is making them happy and sharing the load but it has swung to where it feels like they have all barricaded themselves against bad me now - again a family dynamic not seen for quite a long time. It grieves me greatly to think they will die and this will be my last memories, my last feelings for them. That inspite of all the love and care I have given them they still see nothing but bad and useless in me. This is the family system I know, but my god, it is fully active again and so hard. I hope I will be able to remember the good times we shared in the past 20 years and not this. I am trying to take the high road and keep going, strong in myself that I am worthwhile etc., but my heart aches and I don't want to go really. I feel like withdrawing fully but then they will go and I will not have been there. That seems unbearable. I want to be big enough tos ee apst this

 
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